Have you ever heard the amazing story of the “Cornfield Bomber?”
53 years ago, one of the most bizarre stories in aviation history happened right here in Montana. In fact, the plane took off from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls.
Having not grown up in Montana there are plenty of stories I don't know about, but I was shocked when I asked a couple people if they had heard about this and their response was "Cornfield Bomber?"
So, what is the story of the Cornfield Bomber.
Not a Bomber and Not a Cornfield
Yep, it's called the "Cornfield Bomber”, but it wasn't a bomber, it was a Jet fighter. It also did not land in a cornfield, it landed in a wheat field.
On Feb 2nd, 1970, First. Lieutenant Gary Foust took off from Malmstrom Air Force Base to conduct some aerial combat maneuvers. At some point the plane entered what is known as a flat spin, in which the plane starts to descend in tight circles yet remains horizontal. Unable to get the aircraft under control, Foust ejected from the aircraft.
After ejecting there was a shift in the center of gravity and this allowed the plane to recover from the spin and right itself. As Foust was parachuting down he watched the plane descend and land safely all on its own in a nearby farmers field near Big Sandy. Foust landed in the mountains nearby.
The "Crash" site
The fighter was still running, and the jets were idling in the farmers field as residents and the local sheriff arrived. When the sheriff contacted Malmstrom he was told to just let it run and burn off the fuel. That took another hour and forty-five minutes.
There was so little damage to the plane, one officer on the recovery crew remarked that if there had been any less damage to the plane they probably could have just flown it out.
While that story is crazy enough, it gets better.
The plane was repaired and put back into service, this time in Florida. In 1979, Nine years after the incident in Montana, First. Lieutenant Foust flew that very same plane again.
Today you can see the plane at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, where it has remained on display since it was donated in 1986.
Watch the first-hand account from First. Lieutenant Foust himself and if you'd like to find out more about Malmstrom check out this story.